Serbia still to clear papers on origin of sugar for EU to lift ban on duty-free imports

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia has to clear papers on the origin of sugar exported to the European Union if it wants the EU to lift its ban on duty-free sugar imports, the agriculture minister said yesterday. Ivana Dulic-Markovic told reporters after a visit to Brussels that a large number of certificates of origin issued in the period 2002-2003 still have to be cleared by Serbia. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus has to answer the EU shortly if the ban, which comes up for revision on August 7, is to be removed, she said. The EU suspended duty-free sugar imports from Serbia and Montenegro last year following fraud where customs controls were found to be inadequate to check the origin of the sugar. The new government of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, which took office in March 2004, has made resolving the sugar affair one of its priorities.